Iraqi president condemns targeting of protesters, security forces

 Iraqi president condemns targeting of protesters, security forces
Barham Salih

Baghdad ( – Iraqi President Barham Salih has condemned the recent attacks on protesters and journalists and urged security forces to preserve the rights of Iraqis.

“The youth who died in the demonstrations have left a wound on the chests that cannot be healed simply by assurances. What happened should be considered sedition and a crime which cannot be tolerated,” Al Arabiya TV channel quoted Salih as saying in a televised address on Monday.

Salih, whose role is normally above the day-to-day political fray, called on the armed forces to abide by rules of engagement and avoid using live ammunition.

He added the ongoing protests, which entered their seventh day, came against the backdrop of misery and grievances felt by Iraqi citizens.

“…Our armed forces which have protected the country and the people in the most serious confrontations with terrorism, are also capable of protecting citizens and their peaceful democratic practices in conditions of peace,” Salih’s office quoted him as saying earlier in the day.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry said on Sunday that the death toll from anti-government protests in Iraq rose to 104, including eight security members, while at least 6,000 others were injured.

Violent anti-government protests have erupted in Baghdad and other cities since Tuesday, prompting security forces to fire live rounds and tear gas into the demonstrating crowds.

The demonstrations came in response to online campaigns to express anger about the deteriorating situation in the country, topped by the lack of services, rampant corruption and high unemployment rates.

It is the most serious disruption to hit the country since the defeat of Islamic State two years ago.

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